M. Teixeira Pinto, P. Costa

CARMA is the name of a European initiative that launches an inclusive approach to secondary-school teaching, based on the introduction of non-formal learning practices and collaborative methods that promote interaction, creativity and reciprocal learning between teachers and learners. Based on the Reciprocal Maieutic Approach (RMA) of Danilo Dolci, a group of European education and training experts, has been working on an assessment tool that will allow teachers to monitor and respond rapidly to student’s learning progress, while it also inform parents and the wider school community about the learner’s constantly changing needs.

Since 2016, CARMA’s partners have been dedicated to intensive research on the phenomena of Early School Leaving (ESL), on collecting best practices on collaborative learning (CL) and on identifying existing national frameworks for assessing teachers’ competences. As a result of such investigation, a comprehensive report entitled “Early School Leaving – Statistics, Policies and Good Practices in Collaborative Learning” has been produced. In this report, statistics about ESL are showcased in light of distinctive factors such as gender, ethnic minorities, foreign-born and degree of urbanization.

The analysis is taken one step further and in a consultation with more than1.200 respondents, CARMA’s partners realized that not only students think they learn better in groups and they are happy in actually implementing group work, but also teachers think that their own students learn better in groups. Teachers and students are skilled to work collaboratively and CL is understood important to improve motivation among students and prevent them from dropping out. In terms of perceived needs, teachers reveal that it is fundamental to have the right technologies (or at least assistance), infrastructures and support from educational stakeholders to guarantee the successful implementation of CL activities. Another important factor is teacher training as it helps to promote and develop suitable collaborative practices. The conclusions can be found in the report “Needs Analysis Survey Report”.

One of CARMA’s main goals is to increase and improve the competences of teachers through training and the delivery of an assessment framework that fosters inclusive and participatory practices in teaching, developing collaborative relationships in and out of the classroom. Therefore, the results captured in both reports have been crucial for CARMA’s next steps as they have strengthened the relevance of the project and its aims, by exploring the real needs of teachers and quantified such needs in a way that enabled deeper knowledge on how to adapt non-formal learning methods in secondary education. Such knowledge obtained during the in-depth year-long phase of research conducted by the partnership will be used to filling in the gaps in the educational systems concerning ESL and learner achievements. The absence of existing standards and frameworks for collaborative learning in the partner countries has given a clear rationale for the importance of the CARMA project.